Is matcha good for you? | plmubl.com

Is matcha good for you?

Its vegetal, grassy taste is almost as divisive as marmite, but matcha is fast becoming Gen-Z’s drink of choice over traditional brews.

Kermit-coloured #matchalattes currently have 2 billion views on TikTok, while videos of celebrities such as ZendayaBella Hadid and Hailey Bieber nursing a matcha smoothie is the type of cool-girl wellness aesthetic that Instagram eats up.

A laundry list of supposed health benefits, from improved memory to a reduced risk of heart attack and even relief from period pain, only adds to the allure. So it’s little wonder that global sales are expected to be worth more than $4.6 million in 2028.

What is matcha and why is it good for you?

In case you’re not familiar with the latest wellness must-have, matcha is a concentrated form of green tea that dates back to 8th century China, although it is now mostly produced in Kyoto, Japan.

While it’s made from the same plant (Camellia sinensis) as standard green tea, matcha is grown in the shade to increase the production of chlorophyll that gives the leaves their fluro green colour.

These leaves are then harvested and dried to minimise oxidation before the stems and veins are removed and the leaves ground into a finely-milled powder.

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This process, says nutritionist Michaella Mazzoni, means matcha has more antioxidants – plant compounds such as catechins that protect cells against damaging free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body – than green tea.

In fact, Michaella points out that the amount of EGCG, the major catechin in matcha, is 130 times more concentrated than in green tea. It also contains antioxidant vitamin C and l-theanine, an amino acid with stress-relieving properties, so drinking your daily quota may have an array of health benefits. Here’s everything you need to know.

Matcha may alleviate period pain

study into catechins in green tea found that they may help to reduce hormones produced in the womb (prostaglandins) that lead to period pain. Given matcha also contains high levels of anti-inflammatory catechins, it’s not a huge leap to think the effects could be similar.

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“During your period there is a natural increase of inflammation, which not only causes period pain but exasperates symptoms of anxiety and the production of cortisol (your stress hormone),” Michaella says.

“Anything that can support inflammation adds up to an easier period, so I often recommend one or two cups of green tea or matcha per day to my clients with pro-inflammatory conditions such as painful cramps, endometriosis or PMDD [a very severe form of premenstrual syndrome],” she adds.

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Improve bone and heart health

The antioxidants in matcha also combat oxidative stress in the body. This is important as it’s a major contributor to heart disease. “By neutralising free radicals, EGCG helps reduce inflammation and prevent the oxidative damage that can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries,” explains nutritionist Riya Lakhani-Kanji.

Moreover, matcha has been shown to lower cholesterol. “Studies have shown that regular consumption of green tea, including matcha, can help lower LDL cholesterol [‘bad’ cholesterol] levels while increasing HDL cholesterol [‘good’ cholesterol],” Riya notes. “This balance is really important for maintaining clear blood vessels and preventing atherosclerosis, which is a key risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.”

As well as protecting bones from free radical damage, matcha is also rich in vitamin K to support bone health.

“Vitamin K is essential for metabolising calcium, a mineral important for bone health,” Michaella notes. “Additionally, EGCG potentially decreases osteoclast (cells that break down bone) activity, therefore making it supportive of bone density.”

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Boost brain function

While caffeine is usually associated with a boost in mental alertness, some research shows that the components of matcha – caffeine, antioxidants and l-theanine – could also enhance brain function and improve memory.

One study looked at how people performed tasks designed to measure brain performance. Those who consumed either matcha tea or a bar containing 4 grams of matcha showed improvements in attention, reaction time and memory compared with those in the placebo group.

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Another found that the combination of l-theanine and caffeine may enhance concentration and efficiency more than using either compound alone.

As for antioxidants, “we don’t tend to think about inflammation in the brain, but we certainly can and do have inflammation in that area, referred to as neuro inflammation,” Michaella says. “Symptoms include brain fog, headaches, difficulty focusing and fatigue. The properties of matcha help protect against this cellular damage caused by free radicals.”

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Add matcha to your anti-stress arsenal

Google search for the hormone cortisol has been gaining steam during the first half of 2024 as we try to find effective solutions for chronic stress.

Sipping on a hot drink may not be the obvious solution but, as well as offering a moment of mindfulness during a busy day, the amino acid l-theanine found in matcha elevates your body’s levels of dopamine and serotonin. In layman’s terms, it can make you feel more relaxed.

“L-theanine promotes a sense of calm and focused energy without the jittery effects of caffeine found in coffee,” says Riya. Meanwhile, Michaella encourages you to think of the body holistically when approaching matcha as she believes inflammation and stress are intrinsically linked.

“External stress like work switches on the HPA response [the body’s main stress response system],” she says. “But inflammation from internal sources, such as injury or being on your period can also trigger cortisol production. So if you think about your body as one big system, by working on inflammation you end up working on stress levels, too.”

Cloudcha Matcha

£28 AT CLOUDCHA

Moi Cha Everyday Matcha

£15.49 AT SELFRIDGES

Jenki Ceremonial Grade Matcha

£27.99 AT SELFRIDGES

Matcha vs coffee – which is healthier?

While Michaella believes that matcha is healthier than coffee, it’s worth remembering that it still contains caffeine (more than green tea but less than coffee, which has about 100 to 140 mg of caffeine per cup whereas matcha has 70 mg). So, it’s best to consume matcha in moderation.

Research has suggested that 338 mg of EGCG per day is safe for adults to consume – the equivalent of two level teaspoons of matcha, or one or two cups of matcha latte.

“Remember, too, that because matcha includes caffeine it’s important to eat food first because your cortisol levels are very sensitive first thing in the morning,” says Michaella. “And restrict your intake to before 10am because, at a minimum, it takes everyone about eight hours to detox caffeine.”

How to prepare matcha

When shopping for matcha, scan the packaging for the words ‘ceremonial grade’ as this means it’s the highest grade of matcha, made from the younger leaves at the top of the plant that were traditionally used in tea ceremonies.

To make your own matcha latte, co-founder of Cloudcha Bryony Deery recommends in an Instagram post adding a spoonful of matcha powder to a cup, then adding a little pre-boiled water (between 80-85 degrees maximum) so it’s hot but not boiling in order “to keep the health benefits.”

Then whisk to get rid of any lumps and “bring out the flavour – you want to create bubbles,” she notes. Finally, add frothy warm milk. Et voila!

Dirtea Matcha

£50.99 AT DIRTEA

OMGTEA Grade AA Organic Matcha

£19.99 AT SELFRIDGES

For more from Fiona Embleton, GLAMOUR’s Associate Beauty Director, follow her on @fiembleton.

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